This one is a bit long. Here’s the TL;DR
- I’ve been sick, but on the mend
- My business has also been sick, but also on the path to wellness
- Time to revisit an old methodology
- I’m putting a priority on my health, over social media
It’s June, and although I meant to get this out right on the first day of the month; well, I’ve been a bit under the weather. I got hit with the flu, which turned into coughing fits, which became bronchitis, at which point, I put myself on mandatory down time.
I forced myself to do just about nothing—no art, no videos, no writing, and very little social media. It felt both irresponsible, and completely sublime to do almost next to nothing for awhile.
After a couple weeks of hacking up half my lung tissue, I went to the doctor. Turns out, my cough had progressed to pneumonia. Needless to say, I’m happy I had took myself offline when I did, because pneumonia rarely gets better on its own.
While I’ve been down, I’ve had time to think about the work I’m doing, the efforts I’m putting in, and considering if the rewards are worth the energy spent, especially when you factor in slowly degrading physical and mental health.
Don’t fret, I’m doing alright, and things are already moving in a positive direction, but at a much slower pace than before, and for good reason. Let me explain.
Back in April of 2016, I dedicated myself to putting serious energy into making videos. Things were moving along great for awhile, and my growth seemed to be on a good arc. After about a year though, I noticed my growth slowing down dramatically. I also noticed my views per video going down.
I did research to see if I could figure out why my views were dropping, and the answers I got typically came down to frequency, SEO, collaboration, and a few other metrics.
So I bumped up my SEO, started posting videos more frequently, and I tried really hard to get some people to collaborate with me. None of that seemed to work out very well, because it’s hard to put implement SEO when most of what you’re talking about is esoteric. Also, my efforts to seek out people to collaborate with proved difficult, because my content isn’t always the easiest to mesh with others. Some creative people who appreciate my content had no interest on being on camera. It all grew tiresome; meanwhile in the background, YouTube was implementing new algorithms that made it harder for small channels to get traction.
It’s been over two years now since I dedicated myself to video, but as much as I enjoy making videos, it’s disheartening at times to do all that work, but to see such slow gains. Thank goodness for the small tribe of people who watch and comment on my videos each week; if not for them, I’m not sure where I’d be with it all.
Hold up on your pity parties!
This is not to say I’m stopping videos, because I’m not. In fact, I’m really amped to get back in front of the camera soon, but one of the other things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is my business strategy. I won’t go into it in detail here, because it would take much too long, and I know you’ve got places to be, but video still plays a big part in that strategy.
Here’s the thing though—the video strategy I’m currently using isn’t working. I was posting videos twice a week, on whatever I wanted to talk about, but that didn’t move the needle much.
I switched to posting shorter videos, making the content easily consumable, but that made almost no dent.
I’m also getting similar results on other social media platforms. I post stuff on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook each and every day, and yet I can’t get a foothold on any substantial growth there either.
There are perhaps many reasons why this is happening, but one thing is obviously true—my current method isn’t working, so it’s time for a much needed rethink.
Back to the starting line
When I first started this whole solopreneur gig, being an artist, designer, creative mentor, or whatever it is you want to call me; I had planned for a certain trajectory, and things seemed to be moving in the right direction.
Since then, I’ve pivoted a few times, from one subject matter to the next, not just changing my topic, but shifting to a different business model as well. However, if I had stuck to the business model I started with at the beginning, I’d probably still be doing well. Unfortunately, I gave up on the proven model, and opted for what “felt right” to me.
Feeling good about the work is great, but if it doesn’t have a proven business model behind it; well, then it’s just a hobby. How’s that for some serious self-critique?
What worked before was that I was dedicated to helping people do better with their own thing. And I don’t mean the kind of “rah rah” cheerleading I do now (again, deep cuts to fix the problem), but real, tangible subject matter that people could put into practice instantly to improve the work they do.
Instead of just sharing life experiences, I should be sharing bits of my skillset that I know have a proven track record of winning.
The other day, I got a note from someone who had bought my first book, Selling Art Online. I haven’t updated that book in a few years, but it still shares some valuable thoughts on navigating this creative online world. This person thanked me for what I shared, and she had already started to implement some of the strategies I talked about in the book. She was grateful, and I was happy that someone got value from something I shared.
When you answer people’s questions with honest answers that actually work, it’s a transformative experience for both parties. I think it’s time to tap back into that.
Again, the details are not important for this particular conversation, but know that over the last few weeks of down time, I’ve crafted a pretty interesting approach to doing new things. As soon as I know I’m out of the woods with these maladies of mine, I will implement a full frontal assault into the cerebral cortex’s of anyone willing to listen.
It’s going to be an interesting ride, but I want to be clear about one important factor first.
I will not sacrifice my health for the likes of others
I have these plans for making some really good work that helps people, but if I try to kill myself slowly to make it happen, then it won't be worth it.
If my physical capacity is strained because I’m overloaded with work, or my mental stability is challenged because I’m struggling with the rigors of post frequency, then none of the tangible work I do will mean anything. That would be like working really hard to buy a fancy car, only to crash it the moment you drive it off the lot.
So yeah, I’m going to be doing more with less. That means less videos, but stepping up the quality of the knowledge shared. It means making art on my terms, but only sharing when I finish something, and only finishing something when I feel like it.
I’ll still be on social media, but more concerned about posting quality, instead of worrying about hitting Instagram’s magic algorithm. If trying to play their game wasn’t working for me before, well then I’ll just have to do it on my terms instead.
ps - On a final note, one place that I am dedicating myself the most is on Patreon. There I’m sharing my most up-to-date happenings, including creative work, videos, podcasts (yes, they are coming back), as well as treats that only Patreon supporters get access too.
If you want some of that, please check out www.patreon.com/daveconrey.